A simple guide to the Danish Superliga

The birth of the Premier League transformed English football back in 1992, the significant impact this had on the beautiful game is there for all to see, only 1 year prior to that Denmark had its own football makeover with the creation of the Superliga in 1991.

25 years ago in the spring of 1991 the first Superliga championship took place with 10 teams,  The heavyweights of Danish football at the time Brondby managed to win the quick 18 game format and be crowned champions, it started and ended in a matter of months.  The following season saw a change in the calendar structure with the league spilt into 2 that started in August and finished in May, basically a winter league followed by a spring league, This practice continued for 5 seasons in Denmark, the top 8 clubs would see there points halved and would battle it out in the Spring while the bottom 2 sides would play a relegation play off.

By 1995/1996 the structure of the league changed with 2 more teams being introduced to the table. A 12 league system now meant that each club would play each other 3 times to make a 33 week calendar, the two bottom clubs would automatically be relegated and replaced by the top two first division sides. With an odd number of matches home and away the top 6 clubs each season would gain an extra home match and the bottom 6 clubs would gain an extra away match.

As with every year in Denmark the weather has a big effect on the league structure, the season will normally take place beginning the third week of July and end the first week the following June, the harsh winters of Denmark mean that a 10 week break commences every season from December to late February. Whilst many enjoy the hectic Premier League schedule at that time of year it simply would be bad for a small nation of 5 million to trawl around the country in harsh winter climates, closed access to remote areas and with few TV audiences available. The flip side is the short pre-season every year, there is no waiting around for football in the summer as the end and start of a season is a couple of weeks between.

After 21 years the Danish league format is set to change again, the 2016/2017 season will see another 2 clubs introduced to the Superliga bringing the total to 14. That’s great news for clubs currently struggling in the top flight this season knowing that only one spot will send a team down, plus the lure of 3 promotion places in the first division will be hotly contested.  In a structure inspired by the Belgian league each club will play one another home and away before being divided into play offs, the top 6 contest the championship having their league points halved then play each other twice, the champion will be decided by total points after 10 matches. Clubs who finished in the bottom 2 will face a relegation play off against each other and then 3 promotion chasing sides from the league below

In short there have been 8 different Superliga winners in the last 25 years. FC Copenhagen has taken the mantle with 10 titles, capital rivals Brondby have 6, Aalborg has 4 and the current reigning holders are FC Midtjylland. The 2 yo-yo clubs of Danish football have been Jutland sides Vejle with 5 relegations and Silkeborg with 4 relegations.

Finally there have been 4 League sponsor names, Soft drink global giants Coca Cola for 1 year, Danish brewery Faxe Kondi for 10 years, Scandinavian airline SAS for 13 years and the current Superliga sponsor is Danish insurance company Alka.


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